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Letter: Utah lawmaker resurrects idea for voluntary restriction against buying guns

A display case at Impact Guns in Salt Lake City features empty spaces where guns that have been sold were once displayed on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

An innovative new bill, HB267 (Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy), would allow individuals who fear suicide to temporarily prevent their own gun purchases. Some argue that the bill won’t save lives. That’s not true.

The proposal is in effect an optional waiting period. Waiting periods have been shown to reduce suicide by as much as 5%. And many people would sign up. In one study of a high-risk population, 46 said they’d participate. There were 339 gun suicides in Utah in 2018. These numbers suggest the new bill could save between 5-8 lives each year.

The proposal costs very little and, because it’s voluntary, it does not infringe anyone’s right to bear arms. Of course, much more will need to be done to address the gun suicide crisis in Utah, but the bill is a significant step in the right direction.

Fredrick Vars

Birmingham, Alabama